Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the November issue of Townhall Magazine.
‘Have you been to Walter Reed lately?’ an elderly veteran asked Scott Mallary, founder of Truckin4Troops, at a restaurant a few years ago. The answer was no, not since his father died there at least. ‘Well, you should think about the wounded,’ the veteran replied.
It was this simple conversation that would change the course of Mallary’s life, and countless others, for years to come.
“I mean we had done stuff for the Wounded Warrior Project, stuff like that, but never really thought about physically doing something personally for them,” Mallary tells Townhall. “He inspired me to do something. And it was God’s intervention, too, you know.”
After sleeping on it, he and his family decided to start supporting our nation’s military community by providing iPods, which were downloaded with patriotic songs and engraved with “Thank You For Your Service” on the back.
So how did Mallary’s nonprofit go from donating iPods to transporting servicemen and women, wounded warriors, and their families in the group’s now iconic F650 pickup trucks?
“I got an article from a veteran showing how much money we were giving to illegal immigrants and how much we were giving to our veterans and it made me sick to know that we’re taking care of people that are [here illegally] more than our veterans that have served our nation,” he says. “I’ve always been a big truck guy and I decided to go buy one of these big trucks, personally paying for it, plastering it up with ads to raise money for veterans.”
Rather than using the vehicle for just advertising, someone suggested he take the truck to the airport to pick up returning troops.
After seeing their reaction and how special it was to them, Mallary knew they’d need another truck. “These guys would be in tears, you know, it was really cool ... so we actually cashed in some of our retirement and bought another truck,” he says.
Before long, another organization reached out and asked Truckin4Troops if they could pick up wounded veterans, which opened up a whole new chapter of outreach for the group.
“So we started working with the wounded veterans and ... whenever they would thank us, I would say, ‘You want to thank us? Get your buddies out of the hospital,’ and so we had an avenue to get these guys out of the hospital because they get depressed and don’t want to come out and do anything, but the trucks are kind of inspiring, and the fact that their buddies have already been out with us, so we started having lots of success with getting guys out of the hospital for the very first time,” he explains.
Transportation to and from the hospital and airport for wounded veterans and their families remains a fixture of Truck- in4Troops’ volunteer efforts.
“We just make life a lot easier for them while they’re here,” he says.
To make our nation’s wounded warriors and their families feel appreciated, they also use their pickup trucks, along with a handicap accessible bus, to take them out to dinner, parades, ballgames, NASCAR races, cookouts, and many other events.
The group’s efforts to get wounded warriors out of the hospital and engaged in social activities has provided much- needed rehabilitation. And it’s proved to have a bigger impact on veterans than Mallary ever realized initially.
“We had been working with [one wounded veteran] about a year and a half, and we had a huge birthday party ... and we’re all saying goodbye and everybody was in tears and ... the kid said that we saved his marriage and his life. That was a turning moment where we realized we weren’t just having fun with these guys, we were making a huge impact in their lives,” he explains.
And keeping in tune with the group’s passion for helping wounded warriors and its love of trucks, they also assist veterans with purchasing and customizing vehicles so they can maintain their independence.
Truckin4Troops bought vehicles for three quadruple amputee veterans and one for a triple amputee veteran. For all the others they’ve helped, the group works with organizations such as the Gary Sinise Foundation and Semper Fi Fund to raise between $10,000 and $20,000 in assistance. Since the group’s founding in 2011, they’ve helped more than 40 veterans purchase a vehicle.
Although Truckin4Troops is a small nonprofit based out of Crownsville, Maryland, their outreach and exposure is huge, Mallary says, noting that they worked with veterans all over the country.
“Everything we do is volunteer, 100 percent of the money goes to the [veterans],” he says.
But the organization has grown much faster than they ever anticipated and is in need of support to continue providing the services they do to help our wounded warriors. Mallary says people can help support the group by donating online at Truck- in4Troops.com, or putting together fundraising events that they’ll engage in.
America’s wounded warriors and their families have made extraordinary sacrifices for our nation’s freedoms. Groups like Truckin4Troops give Americans the chance to say thank you. •